Robertsdale business earns Innovation award

By John Underwood / john@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 9/1/17

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Robertsdale’s Quality Filters received the Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing award recently at the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama’s (EDPA) …

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Robertsdale business earns Innovation award

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Robertsdale’s Quality Filters received the Outstanding Achievement in Innovative Manufacturing award recently at the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama’s (EDPA) 2017 Innovation Awards at its “imerge” program in Birmingham.

“The company was recognized for its advanced manufacturing methods and lean business processes in cutting the lead time for filter deliveries from three to four weeks to averaging five days or less,” according to an EDPA release.

The Robertsdale-based company opened in 1981 and was bought by father and son Horace and George Spottswood in 1983.

In 1985, the company developed its first HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) product, and the company began to turn the corner.

In 1991, the company broke ground on a 27,000-square-foot facility in Robertsdale’s Industrial Park. George Spottswood has served as the company’s president/CEO since 2004.

“Quality Filters produces HVAC or air conditioning filters for the commercial, industrial and residential marketplace and we have over 8 million filters that we produced last year and that was over 15,000 schemes and products,” Spottswood said. “We grew the company through consistent dedication and hard work. Our president came up with a quick-ship program where we’re able to produce and ship in 48 hours, 30 different sizes and flavors of products.”

Because they are a small family-run operation in the commodity world, they have to be unique, Spottswood said.

“We’re very in tune to the need to be innovative which is inclusive with the innovative products we’ve introduced,” he said, “as well as being vertically integrated and producing many of our own raw materials.”

The business is very labor intensive, Spottswood said, and in order to be successful in the commodity world, the company has had to be flexible in manufacturing.

“But the good news with that is that we’ve produced a lot of good jobs and I can’t say enough about the work ethic of our employees that we have here,” he said. “I’m very proud to have them working with us and alongside us.”

Quality Filters was nominated for this year’s award by the Central Baldwin Chamber of Commerce and Spottswood said he is deeply honored to win the award.

“Quite frankly surprised, but deeply honored,” he said. “In retrospect I’m not surprised based on the ability to look back at what our accomplishments meant over the last several years the growth an innovation that we’ve experienced here at Quality Filters.”

Quality Filters was one of three businesses honored as leading innovators in their fields.

Cullman’s ZeroRPM, which makes a system that allows a vehicle to idle without running the engine, received the Corporate Innovator of the Year in the small company category.

Diatherix of Huntsville was named Corporate Innovator of the Year in the large company category. The award recognizes the company’s groundbreaking pathogen detection technology, which enables health care provides to more accurately determine the cause of an infection and determine multiple infection sources.

In addition, Jim Hudson, co-founder of Huntsville’s HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, received the Lifetime Achievement in Innovation award for 2017.

The annual awards, which started in 2014, were presented during an Oscars-style celebration at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman was the keynote speaker.

“The EDPA Innovation Awards showcases the most innovative companies in our state,” said EDPA President Steve Spencer. “The winners, and for that matter all of the nominees, are leaders in their spaces, driving forward Alabama’s innovation economy.”

The award winners were selected by a panel of judges, under the chairmanship of ADTRAN CEO Tom Stanton. The panel included Ralph Hargrove, president and CEO of Hargrove Engineers + Constructors; Tharon Honeycutt, founder and president, MSB Analytics; Gene Moorhead, professional EOS implementer; Peggy Sutton, founder and president of To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.; and Neill Wright, executive vice president of Liberty Bank.

The EDPA is a key economic development ally of the Alabama Department of Commerce.